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Kevin Schnepf, Published December 08 2010

Schnepf: Boise State’s blue inspires EWU’s hue

One would think Colin Cowherd would be riding the overloaded bandwagon for North Dakota State Bison football. After all, he hosts “The Herd” – an ESPN sports talk radio show.

Last week, Cowherd could have easily walked across the hallway at the ESPN studios and borrowed the Bison football helmet that cohort Scott Van Pelt displayed during his radio show simulcast on ESPN2.

That wasn’t going to happen.

You see, Cowherd is a graduate of Eastern Washington – the team NDSU plays in its next playoff football game. Cowherd is not only a graduate, he is partly responsible for that much-balleyhooed red turf the Bison will play on Saturday.

Cowherd chipped in $50,000 for the $1 million campaign that turned the football field in Cheney from green to red this past summer.

Now normally when you mix the colors blue and green, you get a shade of cyan. In Eastern Washington’s case, it created red.

Less than 300 miles straight south of Cheney sits the legendary blue-colored football field known as the “Smurf Turf” – the 100-yard long dark blue sea Boise State has been playing on since 1986.

It inspired Eastern Washington athletic director Bill Chaves to see red. What the swoosh is to Nike, the blue field is to Boise. It’s like the hedges at Georgia or Touchdown Jesus at Notre Dame.

Chaves is hoping for that same connection with his new red field dubbed “The Inferno.” Not sure if a red field is going to change the fact that Eastern Washington still plays in the FCS and not the BCS. Nor will it change the fact that Eastern Washington still averages only 7,500 fans – far less than the 16,500 NDSU averages and even less than the 8,000 UND averaged this fall.

Call it a gimmick, but it certainly has people talking – much in the same manner that generated plenty of myths with Boise State’s longstanding sea of blue.

There is the myth that birds have mistaken Boise’s blue field for water, nose-diving right into the ground. Don’t expect the Bison to be lured into the red-carpet treatment. After all, Eastern Washington has won all seven of its games on the red turf.

There is the myth that Boise sued the NCAA for the right to play on a blue field. Not so. Schools are allowed to paint their fields any color. Judging by the gaudiness of the red field, perhaps the NCAA should sue Eastern Washington.

There is the myth that Boise players, with their all-blue uniforms and socks, have a camouflage advantage. How does that explain Heisman candidate quarterback Kellen Moore being able to spot all his receivers?

Even if Eastern Washington’s All-American running back Taiwan Jones will be covered in red from head to toe, be rest assured the Bison defense won’t lose track of him.

Eastern Washington certainly hasn’t lost track of Colin Cowherd. Click on his mug on the school’s athletic web site and this is what you will hear:

“Hi. It’s Colin Cowherd. Be a part of a historic football season at Eastern Washington University as we unveil the red turf. Get your football tickets now.”

And your sunglasses.

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

or at kschnepf@forumcomm.com